The OneDrive “unlimited” debacle: how to lose friends and alienate people

Earlier today Microsoft reneged on its promise to deliver unlimited storage to all OneDrive users. The blog post can be found here:

I am generally pro-Microsoft, will defend its actions, sing its praises, etc. Recently people commented that the space-time continuum might crack because I chose to move away from Windows Phone and back to an iPhone. The reality is that was always going to be short-term. I am not a fan of the iPhone, refuse to use Android, and will most likely go back to a Windows phone in the near future.

But let’s talk about OneDrive and where my frustration is coming from.

Microsoft for the past couple of years had been making significant strides in being “cool” and relevant again. It always had the old stigma about it but some serious headway was being made around Microsoft being the ecosystem and platform of choice – regardless of your device. If you had an iPhone or Android it wasn’t an issue because OneDrive was there, waiting for you to store and share your content.

Here’s the issue: if you launch an “unlimited” service – people are going to treat it as such.

When the “unlimited” announcements were made, often I would explain the rationale behind it: that while some people may fully utilise the service the reality is most people will only store a few gigabytes of data, and so the maths was done that you could offer “unlimited” without fear of being crushed under the weight of it.

I can understand if Microsoft found some people really taking advantage of the “unlimited” offer and thought that something needed to be changed. The blog post refers to “a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings”. That can easily be dealt with by changing the Terms of Service or Acceptable Usable Policy, and then politely tapping those users on the shoulder and asking them to comply.

Instead what Microsoft has done is punished the ENTIRE user base of OneDrive.

OneDrive has already had a tumultuous journey from its Live Mesh days, to SkyDrive, then to OneDrive, then sync changes in Windows 8/8.1, then app changes, etc. It was well on the path to being a solid foundation for the whole “any device, anywhere”. But not now.

Free storage is reduced to 5GB, no 15GB camera roll any more. Seriously???? With the continual increase in smartphone camera quality 5GB would barely last a few months (especially not when you have kids and video everything they do).

Sure for paid users they will get 1TB of storage, which in my opinion is more than enough for the average user. Personally I have 340GB of storage due to various bonuses, however I only use about 120GB of that (about 80GB of that is actually MP3s ripped from CDs I bought years ago). So I’m going to be fine, and if I need to buy more I’ll happily pay.

There’s two issues at play here: Microsoft’s reaction to the uptake of the “unlimited” offer (or as Barney Stinson would say “challenge… accepted”), but I think more so the wording of this blog post. The person who wrote it articulated only the changes. This blog post was a massive slap in the face, and Microsoft will be feeling the pain for a long time. In the world of cloud we were sold on prices going down and services getting better. Reversing position by one of the giants that is trying to win hearts and minds is very unsettling.

The damage is done Microsoft; the cat is out of the bag. You could have done that a hell of a lot better.


  1. Unfortunately the whole OneDrive brand is tarnished, not just for this reason. I’ve now got three sets of syncs on my work computer – Personal, OneDrive for Business (mysite) new gen engine and OneDrive for Business (teamsite) old groove version. If you want to sync a SharePoint Team site you need to use the old version, that isn’t reliable. So we were going to put all the important stuff into the mysite instead. However this latest decision on space reduces our faith in MS further and we can’t risk changes that might be detrimental to our use of it, so bye bye OneDrive we won’t be using it for anything from now on.

    1. I’m in the same situation on my machine.
      And I agree, while this is around the consumer product it will shatter confidence of corporate customers.
      OneDrive for Business was supposed to be lifted to “unlimited” in early 2016 – will that still happen? While the current 1TB is still enough in my opinion, what is to happen with the promise?

  2. Oh dear, we can really see your frustration through this article.

    You’re right though, this has been spoilt by a few, which will affect the majority. Frustrating. Unfortunately MS will not be able to recover from this change and I strongly believe they will need to quickly adjust this again to TRY to make up for it.

    You’d think with the extensive expertise, their knowledge, their resources and smart employees, they could have tackled this a lot better, without damaging their product as extensively as this is currently going through on the internet.

    They should have really kept the camera roll at 15GB, for some reason they’re now being nearly as tight as Dropbox.

    On a plus note, I am eagerly awaiting for the 950 or 950XL, but considering the recent price changes, I am hoping there will be some further reductions as the price is too close to some of the other premium handsets and potentially have next to nothing resale value down the line. Glad to see you’re still not fixed on the iPhone.



    1. The reality is I’ll still use Microsoft products all the way. This kind of thing just makes it harder to sell.
      And I guess I’m frustrated because Microsoft was starting to look cool with the latest Surface line, the Holocene and other bits. Then some bean counter ran a report, wrote a blog post and BOOM – back to the old Microsoft!

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